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Inside Billy Gibbons' brain

Maybe their brains should be scanned.

by and

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  • ZZ Top

ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard have made 15 studio albums together over 40 or so years as a band, and when we ask Gibbons how they've cruised through that many years and albums together as a unit, he gets, well, a little metaphysical on us.

Here's a bit from our Q&A with Gibbons before ZZ Top's show at Hoosier Park on August 19.

NUVO: The blues has a lengthy history; what is it about that music that continues to draw in new fans?

Billy Gibbons: Well, blues ain't ever obsolete or shall it be said, “over,” as it emanates from those mysterious  biorhythms.  It is, literally, something within. So unless the planet goes extinct (which, I guess is a possibility) the blues will color on. As far as new fans find the way, they’re (mostly) human so the choice is to “feel” it.

NUVO: How has your relationship with other band members changed over the 40+ years you've been playing together?

Gibbons: We keen toward yielding each other’s way. No getting underfoot, even on a lengthy tour. We give each other space, so when it's reconnection time, it’s something we each look forward to. Of course, playing together still plays a part in strengthening our weird telepathic communication. We like to think we intuit what the other is going to do before it's delivered. Makes for an enrichment of the exchanges. This even applies to mistakes (yes, we make ‘em). Not entirely sure how this came to pass but we may go in for a collective brain scan one of these days to graph the process.

NUVO: As a band, you've incorporated new styles and sounds. What's the key to being an open-minded listener and attracting open-minded listeners?

Gibbons: It’s sometimes an exhausting challenge to invent exotic new sounds while keeping within the band's draw to the bluesy side of things yet at the rescue is that "always there" band enthusiasm even when we’re unfamiliar with the approach.

NUVO: What's the first record you can remember falling in love with? 

Gibbons: That’s gotta be either High and Lonesome from Jimmy Reed or Hound Dog by Elvis. I mean, they were the be-all and end-all. Everything everyone could possibly wants from then, up to this minute.


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